Scuba Diving is an underwater activity that involves wearing a breathing apparatus underwater to allow the diver to breathe. Scuba Divers carry a source of compressed air so that they can breathe while swimming freely. This is different from divers who use airline or hold their breath for an extended period. Scuba Diving is practiced as a recreational activity or for professional purposes, for example in the military, scientific, public safety and commercial sectors. A diver wears fins on their feet that allow them to swim and a diving mask that makes them easier to see. They generally wear protective wetsuits and equipment that helps them control their buoyancy.
Scuba stands for ‘self-contained underwater breathing apparatus’. This term was originally used to describe the rebreathers used by U.S. combat frogmen. They were used in World War II for underwater warfare.
Once you get below 10 metres depth, you can’t see red or yellow! If you cut yourself your blood looks blue.
Open-circuit scuba involves directly venting exhaled breaths into the water.
Sound travels five times faster underwater than in air, which makes it almost imipossible to establish where sound is coming from, as we rely on the time difference between our ears to do so.
Oxygen becomes toxic when under pressure, so at depths greater than 42 metres, special gases with low oxygen are used.
Closed-circuit scuba was invented for rescue and escape. The military became fond of it because it produced few bubbles and allowed for less detection.
The first successful closed-circuit scuba was designed in 1878 by Henry Fleuss.
Nitrogen narcosis affects all divers – it’s the effect of Nitrogen beaing breathed at depths of more than 25 metres. It’s a little like being slightly drunk.
The first successful open-circuit scuba was designed in 1943 by Jacques-Yves Cousteau and Emile Gagnan.
Children can learn to dive as young as 8 – the limitng factor is that they must be able to manage the weight of the equipment.
Recreational scuba divers participate in exploring underwater caves, shipwrecks, and coral reefs. They also participate in ice diving and deep diving, which require technical skills.
The diving equivalent of the mile high club is called the 20 metre club.
Professional scuba divers work as diving instructors, divemasters, and diving guides.
Ahmed Gabr is in the Guinness book of world records for completing a dive down to 332.35m (1.095 ft) in the red sea off the coast of Egypt.
There are diving specialists in the military who perform tasks such as placing underwater mines, manning torpedoes, disposing of bombs, sneaking behind enemy lines, and direct combat.
Another Egyptian Walaa Hafez set the new record of 51 Hours and 10 minutes in June 2015 again in the Red Sea off Hurghada, Egypt.
Other professional scuba divers use their skills to allow them to perform underwater photography, videography, scientific research, marine biology, oceanography, hydrology and even archaeology underwater.
The highest altitude scuba dive in the world has been made in on several occasions in a lagoon in the crater of Lincancabur, between the Chilean and Bolivian border at an altitude of 5,900 metres (19,357ft).
Most scuba diving for recreational purposes is kept to 100 feet or less.
The modern wetsuit was invented by the American physicist, Hugh Brandner, in 1952. One of the first (and very successful) wetsuit manufacturers was O’Neill.
Safety risks during scuba diving include decompression sickness. When decompression sickness occurs, as a result of a build-up of gases in the bloodstream and the pressure is reduced too quickly. Avoiding decompression sickness is achieved by ensuring the ascent is not done too quickly. If decompression sickness occurs and first aid is not successful, there is serious risk of death or permanent disability.
If you spit in your dive mask prior to the dive, as gross as it may be, it will actually prevent the mask from fogging. This is because the spit will coat the lens and the layer will be too smooth for the condensed vapor to hold on to. If you don’t want to spit, the soap or detergent will do the same trick.
Other possible safety issues associated with scuba diving includes nitrogen narcosis, oxygen toxicity, and diving equipment failure or malfunction.
Water absorbs light rapidly, that’s why scuba diving rookies might feel disappointed that the underwater world actually looks a little bit less colorful than in the TV documentaries. The color that is absorbed the quickest is red. Hence the red filters for the underwater cameras like GoPro and others. The color red is followed by orange, yellow, green and blue.
Marine mammals that can pose a risk to scuba divers include stinging jellyfish, stingrays, sharks, crocodiles, venomous sea snakes, groupers, electric rays, and sea urchins, among many others.
While official statistics of scuba diving injuries would mention barotraumatic injuries as the number one injury related to scuba diving, in reality broken fingers or broken noses are the most common ones.
The main rules for scuba diving include getting sufficient training, never diving solo, being in good shape, ascending slowly and with control, not holding your breath, checking equipment, relaxing, and planning the dive and sticking to the plan.
Some of the most popular diving destinations include Australia, Micronesia, Egyptian Red Sea, Hawaii, Thailand, Belize, and Palau.